Technology and parcel delivery over the years

Parcel delivery and the advance of technology have gone hand in hand over the years, and it's fair to say that the delivery and shipping industry has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of technological advancements.

Parcel delivery services have a long history, with roots stretching way back to the times of stagecoaches, when horses and coaches were responsible for taking the mail up and down the country. With the advent of steam engines and the improvement of Britain's railways, our postal service proved it could move with the times and was quick to realise the benefits offered by this new speedier service - and jumped on the band wagon, as it were. Suddenly, parcels took a matter of days to arrive, rather than weeks.

Air travel revolutionised international deliveries, and the aircraft innovations that came out of the First World War played a huge role in enabling this. Gradually, services expanded as more international routes opened up. Advancements in aeronautics enabled long haul flights, and the distance possible for packages to be sent (as well as the delivery times) improved exponentially.

Drones are the next step for parcel delivery; this exciting new technology has had the media abuzz in recent years, with large retailer Amazon promising same day delivery via drone in the next few years. Here are some other technological developments that have revolutionised the industry.

The introduction of barcodes

Barcodes were a great invention that helped speed up information processing, streamlining operations for many industries, including parcel delivery. In 1969, the first true barcode system was installed in a General Motors plant in Michigan, USA, to monitor production and distribution.

The technology evolved to enable 2D image scanners in the 1980s; these take a digital picture of the device, instead of using a laser beam. This technology can now be handled on smartphones and other mobile devices, such as those used by ipostparcels delivery drivers. Today, barcodes are an increasingly important part of parcel tracking, along with ID numbers.

Automation and parcel tracking

As the world marches firmly into the digital age, automation is becoming an everyday part of our lives. When it comes to parcel delivery; automated activities facilitate so many parts of the process.
Automated parcel tracking allows customers to track the process of their precious cargo, from the point when it leaves home, to when it reaches its destination. Now, technology such as text messages and online tracking services mean the customer can be automatically updated on every step of the journey.

Online ordering and ecommerce

Of course, the impact of online shopping goes almost without saying, but no article about technology would be complete without highlighting just how much of an impact it has had - which is especially true in the world of parcel delivery

Mail order has existed for many years, beginning with paper catalogues, postal orders and then phone ordering. The growth of the internet means that online shopping now accounts for more than 15 per cent of all retail sales in the UK, with sales exceeding £100 billion in 2014.

Mobile technology and the improvements in data services such as 3G and 4G mean that people can now shop online anywhere. In fact mobile payment firm Zapp found that £9.3 billion is spent each year online just by people shopping on their commute to work.

This increase in demand has also meant shoppers have changed their habits in other ways. As such, consumers want their parcels faster and in more convenient ways. Next Day Delivery is now a standard expectation and, thanks to technology and great service, it's a happy reality.

Also see our related content...

Sending parcels to the UK

Sending parcels internationally

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Please note if you do not select the “signature required” delivery option, UKMail will not be liable should your items be subsequently lost or damaged after the delivery (see clause 11.7 of the Terms & Conditions). *We define a “Parcel” as a package with dimensions up to 80cm x 80cm x 80cm and a weight of up to 25kg.

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